As students of Gothic literature and Keanu Reeves fans know, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is that rare classic that offers high-brow cover for what is essentially a sex romp through Transylvania. As author Maria Cruz found, it also makes for good plagiarizing.
You see, when Amazon opened up its Kindle Select program to indie publishers and self-published authors, it left the door ajar for plagiarists. As Adam Penenberg points out in Fast Company, that problem is particularly rampant in the erotica genre.
In Bram Stoker’s case, his work has been in the public domain since it was first printed, due to his failure to follow proper copyright procedure. In most cases, however, the source text for thieves of the titillating aren’t noted authors, but rather their fellow purveyors of smut:
It turns out Cruz isn’t the only self-published plagiarist. Amazon is rife with fake authors selling erotica ripped word-for-word from stories posted on Literotica, a popular and free erotic fiction site that according to Quantcast attracts more than 4.5 million users a month, as well as from other free online story troves. As recently as early January, Robin Scott had 31 books in the Kindle store, and a down-and-dirty textual analysis revealed that each one was plagiarized. Rachel M. Haven, a purveyor of incest, group sex, and cheating bride stories, was selling 11 pilfered tales from a variety of story sites. Eve Welliver had eight titles in the Kindle store copied from Literotica and elsewhere, and she had even thought to plagiarize some five-star reviews. Luke Ethan’s author page listed four works with titles like My Step Mom Loves Me and OMG My Step-Brother in Bisexual, and it doesn’t appear he wrote any of them. Maria Cruz had 19 ebooks and two paperbacks, all of which were created by other authors and republished without their consent, while her typo-addled alter ego Mariz Cruz was hawking Wicked Desire: Steamy bondage picture volume 1.
Amazon’s current policy is to remove offending content when a complaint of plagiarism is registered. Ms. Cruz, for example, had her 51 e-books deleted when users protested in a Kindle forum. But a few days later, she posted an entirely new set of material and Amazon takes time to act.
Meanwhile unlike other genres that operate less in the shadows, the original authors who shared their deepest fantasies for free on sites like Literotica are probably not going to lead the charge of plagiarism. Mr. Penenberg says the writers he contacted alternated between flattered, angry, and fearful that their identity would be revealed.
David Springer, for example, a security guard “whose ‘nom de naughty‘ is Oediplex” learned that a Kindle Single called My Step Mom Loves Me by Luke Ethan was just a repackaged version of his original Literotica story, “I Remember Mother.” As he told Fast Company,
“I never did expect to get wealthy from writing, though I wish I had a penny for every orgasm my stories have produced.”
Real artists, it seems, do it for the love of the sport.